AS WE MOVED FROM JUNE TO JULY, something happened that hardcore U.S. fans have wanted for years: a sequence of meaningful domestic competitions. Sure, they had limited entry lists and essentially no real opportunities for spectators, but some of the nation’s stars—particularly sprinters and distance runners—got some chances to shine. The highlights:
Houlihan Crushes Her American 5000 Record
The Nike Bowerman TC restricted entry to its club members, but staged a trio of notable meets in Portland: June 30, July 10 & July 21. Shelby Houlihan had her footprints all over the series.
In the first meet she claimed the yearly world outdoor 1500 lead with her 4:02.37, edging Karissa Schweizer’s PR 4:02.81. PRs were the order of the day in a 5000 in which both Houlihan and Schweizer rabbited: Elise Cranny 14:48.02 (AL), Courtney Frerichs 14:50.06, Colleen Quigley 15:10.42, Gwen Jorgensen 15:18.25, with Cranny and Frerichs moving to Nos. 7 & 9 on the all-time U.S. list.
The men’s 5 found Sean McGorty (13:11.22, outdoor WL) and Grant Fisher (13:11.68) PRing, with Evan Jager next at 13:12.12.
Meet No. 2 was the biggie, with Houlihan attacking the American Record 14:34.45 she had set in Belgium back in ’18. Quigley led the way through 1800m before Frerichs took over. Cranny was in the lead through the 3000 (8:47.28). At 3800 Houlihan was at the front to stay, covering the last 1500 in 4:26.42, last 1200 in 3:16.13, last 800 in 2:07.25 and last lap in 61.45 as she finished in 14:23.92, moving to No. 12 on the all-time world list in addition to claiming the AR.
After an opening 200 of 35.87, the Arizona State alum covered her laps in 69.44, 70.81, 70.32, 70.07, 70.15, 70.90, 70.59, 69.35, 70.29, 68.88, 65.80 & 61.45. Behind her, Schweizer also crumpled the old AR, timing 14:26.34. Frerichs also PRed in 3rd at 15:32.81.
Interviewed by runnerspace.com after the race, Houlihan said, “We had our awesome teammates out there and they were nailing what they were supposed to do. The splits were perfect. So, yeah, we just had to kind of squeeze down the last about 1200ish, 1400. I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead, she does that every time, and I had decided I was not going to let that happen. So I just kept fighting her off and I tried to have a big kick in the last lap.
“I had seen on the scoreboard that the projected time was like 14:37. I don’t know if it was right but I was just like, ‘Go!’ on the last lap. So that’s kind of all I was focusing on, just trying to finish as hard as I could.”
Questions have been raised about whether or not Houlihan’s mark can be ratified as an official American Record, since the intrasquad-meet nature of the competition apparently doesn’t satisfy USATF’s “two or more clubs” stipulation. It will nonetheless be carried on T&FN’s yearly and all-time lists, which don’t require that.
The men’s race featured some wondrous stuff as well, Wisconsin alum Moh Ahmed claiming the yearly world lead with a Canadian Record 12:47.20, followed by a PR 12:58.78 for Lopez Lomong, moving him to No. 8 on the all-time U.S. list.
The final meet featured a 600 and a pair of 1500s. Houlihan rabbited the first section won by Schweizer’s PR 4:00.02 (8, x A). Houlihan came back for the second section, rabbiting again and ending up 3rd in a race won by Frerichs’ PR 4:07.39. Marielle Hall PRed at 4:10.77 in 2nd.
On the men’s side, Ahmed again led the way, his outdoor world-leading 3:34.89 turning back lifetime bests by Scott (3:35.93) and Fisher (3:36.23) with Jager (3:36.31) next in the queue.
Norman Burns Up The Track In Texas
Already well established as one of the best 200/400 sprinters ever, Michael Norman added the 100 to his repertoire at the AP Ranch High-Performance I affair (Ft. Worth, July 20). On a nice warm day with a 1.6 wind conditions were about perfect as he scorched the straightaway to the tune of 9.86. Former USC teammate Rai Benjamin followed with a PR 10.03, an impressive show of speed for a 400 hurdler.
Speaking of both of them, Norman said, “I think this year is just a test and a reflection of the hard work we put in through the fall and spring given our situation, and our results are just kind of a true reflection of how great as coaches Coach Caryl and Coach Watts are when it comes to us planning and getting ready to compete or just in training us in general. So this definitely gives us a confidence boost as well as a reassurance that we’re on the right track. And if everything was perfect we’d be in an even better situation. So let’s hope for the best, continue working and hope that everything goes well in the next year.”
Bromell Highlights Speed In Florida
Noah Lyles had the fastest 100 at the Showdown In Otown (Montverde, Florida, July 04), but his 9.93w was aided by a stiff 4.0 wind as he beat Justin Gatlin’s 9.99. The big news came in the following section, as Trayvon Bromell opened eyes with his fastest century since the Rio semis, running a U.S.-leading 10.04.
“It was a blessing. That was definitely one I didn’t see coming, but, you know, I was happy that it did,” said Bromell, who gives much credit to the positive energy in coach Rana Reider’s Jacksonville-based training group, which he joined last August. “The connection that we have and the drive for each other that we have is remarkable,” he said of the enclave which includes Canadian Andre De Grasse and Jamaican Omar McLeod among a top-drawer cast of speed merchants.
At twice the distance, Kenny Bednarek—who had PRed in his 100 section, beating De Grasse 10.14–10.17—took the yearly world lead in the 200 with his 20.04. Josephus Lyles PRed behind him at 20.41.
The women’s side featured a solid long-sprint double by Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who ran 22.61 (outdoor WL) and 50.52 (WL). Sha’Carri Richardson captured the 100 in a world-leading 11.05.
And Even More Speed In Florida
Three weeks after the Montverde meet the Sunshine State was again set ablaze at the Back To The Track affair (Clermont, July 24–25). Just as in the first meet, Noah Lyles won the 100 with a wind-aided 9.93 (2.3mps), beating De Grasse by 0.04. Trayvon Bromell ran only the heats, confirming his return to form with a legal 9.90 win.
Lyles doubled back with a world-leading 19.94 in the 200, handily beating Bednarek’s 20.19. In the furlong’s second section, Bahamian Steven Gardiner ran 19.96, easily topping Josephus Lyles’ PR 20.41. In the 400, Jamaican Akeem Bloomfield lowered the yearly world lead to 45.07, with Josephus Lyles improving the U.S. best to 45.40.
Miller-Uibo stood out on the women’s side, first in the 100, where she twice improved on her PR of 11.19, running 11.03 in the heats and a world-leading 10.98 in the final. She came back with a world-leading 21.98 in the 200.
Crouser Notches A Shot PR
The American Track League held a pair of meets in Marietta, Georgia (July 11 & 18), with the shot being the star event on the men’s side. In the first, Ryan Crouser made his yearly outdoor debut and produced the two longest outdoor puts in the world this year, the best taping out at 71-9 (21.87). Behind him, up-and-coming Nick Ponzio reached 69-2 (21.08), matching the PR he had hit twice the previous week.
In the second, Crouser had one of the best series ever, this time extending his PR by a centimeter to 75-2 (22.91). “I mean the opener wasn’t bad, 21.87,” he said. “But I felt like I definitely left a lot on the table after last Saturday. So I felt like, ‘I’m going to get out there and, kind of having shaken the rust off last weekend, execute a lot better technically.’ So I knew I could throw far. I wasn’t expecting to really throw that far.”
The next day, Ponzio continued his hot streak, scaring the 70-foot barrier with a PR 69-11 (21.31). But on the 24th he joined not only the 70-foot club but also the 71, as he reached 71-3¼ (21.72) in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
Nice Vault Sequence By Nageotte
The women’s side of the first ATL meet was highlighted by Katie Nageotte’s clearance of 15-5 (4.70), the highest outdoor height by an American this year. Highest for 5 days, that is, as Sandi Morris staged a competition in her backyard (Piedmont, South Carolina, July 16). Morris led all the way, topping out with a first-try clearance of 15-9¼ (4.81) to take the yearly outdoor world lead. Nageotte matched that on her third try.
Two days later, at ATL2, the lead went up again as Nageotte scored an outdoor PR 15-10 (4.83), clearing on her second attempt. The busy Nageotte jumped again on July 21 (Mooresville, North Carolina), winning at 15-5½ (4.71).
The non-Bowerman TC people have been staging their own meets in Oregon, and the big news from there was a 3:35.85 by Donavan Brazier in Portland on July 03. Now, a 3:35.85 may not sound like much in this day and age, but consider this: the world champ was only in 4th at the bell and proceeded to unleash a 52.13 last lap (and 1:50.85 for his final two circuits) for an easy win…
The first race in the MVMNT series (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, July 18), saw national 10K leaders go to Abdisamed Abdi (Hanson Brooks) at 28:59.47 and Keira D’Amato (unattached) at 32:33.44…
Hammer thrower Rudy Winkler had a day of days in Walkill, New York, on July 26. The New York AC standout opened with a PR 255-9 (77.97) that moved him to No. 9 on the all-time U.S. list. On his second try he moved to No. 5 as he upped his best to 260-8 (79.45). Rounds 3 (248-7/75.78) and 4 (252-11/77.09) were anticlimactic, but in the fifth round he jumped up to No. 3 American ever, hitting 264-9 (80.70). For good measure he wound up his super series with his second-best throw ever, 263-7 (80.34).
Team Boss staged a couple of impressive miles. In the first, running at about 1400m of altitude in Grand Junction, Colorado (June 27), Emma Coburn ran 4:32.72, beating Cory McGee’s 4:33.39. In the second (Marion, Indiana, July 25), McGee produced the year’s fastest outdoor time, a PR 4:21.81 that moved her to No. 9 on the all-time U.S. list. Tripp Hurt won the men’s race in 3:56.18. USATF subsequently determined the Marion event did not follow its COVID-19 event hosting guidelines and voided the meet’s sanction. ◻︎